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Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA)

Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA)

The Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) is a professional non-profit organization, representing all institutions and people working in libraries and information services in South Africa.


  • Purpose
  • History
  • Structure
  • Publications
  • Awards and Grants
  • Address and Contact Details
  • Website


It advocates and supports the provision of efficient, user-orientated and excellent library and information services that aspire to equitable access to information for all communities (literate and illiterate) in South Africa. It represents the interest of and promotes the development and image of library and information in South Africa, at local, provincial and national level to government and other agencies. LIASA also represents the LIS sector at international levels.

LIASA's membership consists of individuals interested in or working in libraries and information services and institutions or organizations that maintain or are interested in libraries and information services. Today LIASA has nealy 1600 members and is nationally and internationally acknowledged and recognised as the professional association.

The Association is divided into 10 branches that reside in each province in the country with two based in Gauteng. The Association is governed by a Representative Council elected by its members. An Executive Committee consisting of elected officials are mandated by the Council to implement its policies and programmes. The Executive Committee's activities are guided by a strategic plan that is revised every 4 years.


The Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) was launched on 10 July 1997. The launch marked the end of the process of unification of all existing library organisations in South Africa. This process was initiated in January 1995 at the Conference on Libraries and Information Services in Developing South Africa (LISDESA), which was an initiative of the two largest existing organisations at the time, the South African Institute for Librarianship and Information Science (SAILIS) and the African Library Association of South Africa (ALASA). It was at LISDESA that the first Steering Committee for the Unification of Library and Information Stakeholders (ULIS) was elected and given the mandate to carry forward the process for a new organisation.

At the ULIS-1 conference, held in July 1996 in Johannesburg, an Interim Executive Committee (IEC) was elected and mandated to draft a constitution for discussion by all the stakeholders. The IEC, supported by the Provincial Support Groups (PSGs) representing all nine provinces in the country, arranged the Constituent Conference (aka ULIS-2) at the University of Pretoria in July 1997.

Approximately four hundred and fifty library and information workers representing all nine provinces in South Africa attended the Constituent Conference. The primary focus was to debate and approve the draft constitution. All delegates were given the opportunity to discuss and propose amendments. On the final morning the final edited draft of the constitution was presented and accepted unanimously. The delegates also voted for the name of the new organisation. A Transitional Executive Committee (TEC) was elected to manage the Association, to prepare for the election of the first Representative Council, and to organise the first annual conference, which took place in November 1998. Of significant note, the acronym LIASA, pronounced as "liyasa", in the Nguni languages, means "the dawning".


The Representative Council is made up of the five elected officials (President, President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer and Public Relations Officer), the Chairs and Chairs-Elect of the LIASA Branches, Chairs of the Interest Groups, as well as the Editors of LIASA-in-Touch (the official magazine) and the South African Journal of Libraries and Information Science (SAJLIS).

The Executive Committee is made up the five elected officials and four additional Representative Council members. Elections are held every two years and each portfolio is held for a two-year term.

Branches: The Library and Information Association of South Africa has 10 branches one in every province and two in Gauteng. Each branch has a committee elected from its paid-up members. Every branch arranges its own meetings and functions, and compiles its own constitution in alignment with the LIASA constitution.

Interest Groups: LIASA has 10 Interest Groups that serve as platforms for membership discussions that cover various areas of interest and specialisation. Members may choose to belong to two Interest Groups at the time of registration. A national meeting of each Interest Group is convened at the annual LIASA Conference. Several Interest Groups have organised pre-conferences at the annual conference, which have exposed members to further training and skills development by experts in the field.


LIASA has two official publications, namely:

1. The South African Journal of Libraries and Information Science (SAJLIS), an open access, peer reviewed and accredited journal, is published twice per year.

2. Its official magazine, LIASA-in-Touch, is published four times per year.


Justice Albie Sachs Freedom Award

The initial concept of the Justice Albie Sachs Freedom Award was proposed by Clare Walker, formerly of WITS University library. The background to the origin of the award has been published in an article by Clare in the July issue of LIASA-in-Touch. The award was to honour the “unknown librarian” that Justice Sachs mentioned in his speech at the opening of the IFLA Conference in Durban in 2007. The “unknown librarian” had been instrumental in providing him with books during the period he spent in detention – a fact that he has never forgotten to this day. The Award is a departure for LIASA whereby we are honouring South Africans who support the concept of freedom to access to information – it is a bold stand that we are taking and it shows that we have grown as an organisation when we are able to look beyond the boundaries of our Association and honour citizens who have made such meaningful contributions to our society in this area.

LIASA Honorary Members

Honorary membership is LIASA’s highest honor.  It is conferred on a living citizen of any country whose contribution to librarianship or a closely related field is so outstanding that it is of lasting importance to the advancement of the whole field of library service in South Africa.  It is intended to honour the individual’s high level of personal commitment and achievement.

LIASA Librarian of the Year Award

The Librarian of the Year is a role model for the Library and Information Services community and a person whose contributions make a lasting impact on the sector. This accolade is granted by peers in recognition of the achievements and accomplishments of inspiring and exceptional public, academic, school and special librarians.

You may be an inspiring leader; a knowledgeable & dynamic subject librarian; a creative school librarian who makes learning a pleasure; a techno-savvy finger-on-the-button social media librarian; a caring and approachable public librarian who goes the extra mile; the possibilities are endless.

The award may be used for any educational purpose (either visits to relevant institutions locally or internationally, attending relevant conferences or further studies).

LIASA President’s Award for the Best Branch

Awarded annually to the Branch that has been most active, and played an active role in promoting the objectives of LIASA.

LIASA President’s Award for the Most Improved Branch

Awarded annually to the Branch that has improved the most from the former year.

LIASA President’s Acknowledgement for Exceptional Contribution

It is the prerogative of the LIASA President to identify individuals and to award the  LIASA President’s Acknowledgement for Exceptional Contribution to deserving LIASA members who made an exceptional contribution to the association in particular.

UNISA Department of Information Science Alumnus of the Year

The Department of Information Science of UNISA celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2005. To commemorate this half century of involvement in Library and Information Science education and training in South Africa, Africa and the world, the Department decided to institute an “Alumnus of the Year Award”.

South African Library and Information (SALI) Trust Grants

The SALI Trust, established after the dissolution of the South African Institute for Librarianship and Information Science (SAILIS), has the following objectives:

  • To promote the common interest of persons carrying on the profession or occupation of librarianship and information work within the Republic of South Africa; and in doing so
  • To develop librarianship and information studies in order that library and information services of a high standard may be rendered by all persons active in the Library and Information Sector in the Republic of South Africa.

South African Library and Information (SALI) Trust Lifetime Achievement Award

This award honours librarians by acknowledging their contribution to the profession over a long period, including the skills, ingenuity, dedication, commitment and service that individuals in the library and information sector bring to their institutions and communities.  

LIASA Executive Librarian Award

The Executive Librarian Award is aimed at recognising the captains of the Library and Information Services (LIS) profession; the powerhouses who are currently inspiring and building a legacy, not only for themselves but also for all LIS practitioners.   


The LIASA National Office is located on the Pretoria campus of the National Library of South Africa (NLSA).

Physical Address

228 Johannes Ramokhoase Street (Previously Proes Street)
Pretoria (Annex to the National Library of South Africa)

Postal Address

PO Box 1598
South Africa

Tel: +27 (0) 12 328 2010 or +27 (0) 12 323 4912
Fax: +27 (0) 12 323 1033

Office Hours

Monday - Friday: 08:30 - 16:30
Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays: Closed





1. Library and Information Association of South Africa, (accessed on July 11, 2020).

2. Wikipedia, "Library and Information Association of South Africa," (accessed on July 11, 2020).


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